Your Opinion, Please

by An Ordinary Man (the novel)

One of the more controversial elements of An Ordinary Man comes when Richard and his wife, Liz, are discussing his friend’s philandering. His friend has told Richard that he feels he is doing his wife a favor by spreading out his sexual demands among several women. The friend’s wife has filed for divorce upon finding this out and Richard isn’t quite sure he thinks this is fair:

“Have you ever stopped to think maybe she’s violated her vows as well?”
“She’s cheating on him? With whom?”
“Not like that. She’s not cheating on him, she’s cheating him … Not having
sex within a marriage is as much cheating as having sex outside the marriage.”

In other words, Richard equates being involuntarily celibate because a wife has stopped providing sex with stepping out on said wife. A husband who steps out despite sleeping with his wife is a cad, but what is a wife who stops sleeping with a decent husband? A yes/no vote over-simplifies, of course, but assume an otherwise cordial, friendly, loving relationship.

Do you agree?